Monday, December 09, 2013

Second Monday of Advent: Calm

I'm in the second year of my spiritual direction program, which features a 50-hour practicum. This basically consists of meeting with people for at least 50 hours total for spiritual direction in whatever way you want to structure it, monthly meetings with a supervisor to go over a verbatim based on one such session, and some other reading and writing.

My practicum is pretty simple and straightforward: guide a pastoral colleague through the 19th Annotation version of the full Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, which will end up being 30-32 weekly meetings when it's all said and done, and offer the option of an abbreviated 8-week overview version of the Exercises to church members.

Just this fall, I've been meeting with three people for the 8-week retreats, so that's four people total with whom I've been meeting with for direction so far this year. No two retreats have been the same, as no two spiritual journeys are the same.

One of the most notable takeaways for me so far is how more than one directee has reported how much they've noticed their interactions with others have changed. They report times with difficult people where they've been inspired to take a step back and prayerfully consider how to handle it rather than up the anxiety by snapping back. Their daily prayer time has seeped into other aspects of their lives. It's been incredible to hear about. Here is the importance of spiritual health playing out for others to see.

Coffeedaughter recently dealt with RSV. Her nose was incredibly stuffy, her chest congested. She'd be privy to coughing fits, even to the point of choking. Unfortunately, this choking has led to gastrointestinal pyrotechnics more than once, usually at the most inopportune times.

One such time occurred a few weeks ago when we were already running late for a doctor's appointment. I'd just strapped her into her carseat when the coughing and subsequent vomiting happened. In the past when I've been in a situation like this, I've been privy to a complete freakout, albeit a brief one. This time, however, two things happened.

First, I remembered my directees reporting the difference in their spirits as a result of their prayer time when similar moments happened.

Second, a very clear voice in my head said, "You're no good to her when you're hyped up. She needs you to stay calm."

And so, letting go of how late we were, I set to work in cleaning her up and cradling her to calm her down. We would leave when we would leave. That was not the most important thing in that moment.

Whatever it is that my directees are learning from me, I'm learning just as much from them. At least indirectly, they helped get me through that morning. For that, I'm thankful. And during this week of the season when we're invited to reflect on peace, this will serve as the basis for my own reflection.